NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Oil dealers say they are being squeezed by a relentless boom in cheaper natural gas that is taking away customers and forcing the mostly family-owned businesses to find other ways to survive.
Jennifer Tracey-Carlo is the third generation to run Tracey Energy Services in New Haven. She says her company has lost 20 percent of its customers in the last eight years and has been forced to buy smaller companies.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the number of U.S. homes heated by oil declined from 17.2 million in 1973 to 8.1 million in 2011.
The Energy Department says that an average home with oil heat will spend $2,046 this winter, compared with $679 for homes using natural gas.
Customers that have switched to gas say they appreciate the cheaper bills.